BMW make some outstanding twin cylinder bikes, that are loved by bikers who want to go the distance on two wheels. But what about beginners, or commuters, who simply don’t need an 1100cc sized bike?
Enter the F650CS Scarver, a unique looking all-rounder, powered by BMW´s very own 652cc single cylinder, fuel injected engine. It also has the trademark BMW single sided swingarm at the rear, plus belt drive. Is this where basic motorbike meets weekend designer toy?
Alastair Walker racked up 1,000 miles to think it over.
BMW established their reputation with big twin cylinder touring bikes, but their entry level F650 Scarver single is a great all-rounder, that´s capable, easy to handle and very versatile – if you have the cash for the options.
The 652cc engine is BMW´s own design, manufactured in Berlin, and feels totally different from the slightly harsh old motor, found in the original Funduro 650, from the 1990s. This new model has a state-of-the-art, fuel injected, digital ignition, four stroke, punting out a healthy 50bhp, at just under 7,000rpm, It´s also fuel efficient, returning around 70-75mpg on test.
The clever design extends way beyond the engine however. The F650CS carries its engine oil in the frame, the exhaust features a catalytic converter and where you would normally find a messy drive chain near the rear wheel, the BMW has a belt final drive instead.
Indeed, the back end of the F650 is something of an engineering showcase, as it also boasts a single-sided swingarm, incorporating the monoshock rear suspension. It´s similar to the paralever unit found on Boxer twins and because it´s a hollow casting, it´s also surprisingly lightweight too. All that adds up to solid, predictable handling and rider comfort on most UK road surfaces. The F650 impresses by simply shrugging off the sort of bumps which get other 650 trailie bikes bouncing.
TAKE IT EASY BABY.
The F650 is a bike you soon get to like, as it simply gets on with the job of flicking past traffic, whether in town or country, without any great effort from the rider. It isn´t annoyingly vibey, like some single cylinder machines, plus it has an exceptionally low seat height, which is handy for commuting. The saddle is also very comfortable for solo use, although the step in the seat makes the pillion perch seem a bit cramped.
Because the fuel tank is located under the seat, to keep the weight low, the F650CS is easy to push around, or paddle with your feet on the ground. I think few bikes can offer such immediate confidence to the beginner; it really would be hard to drop this bike by overbalancing, no matter how short in the leg you are.
The Scarver also has a utility space in front of the rider, where the gas tank usually sits. This can be filled with optional soft, or hard luggage, or even a radio, complete with speakers – it´s just big enough to carry a spare helmet too. This is another clever design touch, but for my money, there´s no doubt that a simple, lockable luggage space, would be the only option worth considering in rainy Britain. Without an optional extra in the placcy space, it tends to look a little bit like somewhere to park your beer belly!
Overall, the BMW looks unique, very different, but underneath all the `new wave´ design flim-flammery, it is a determinedly sensible everyday motorbike. It goes well, cruising at 80mph without trouble, the flyscreen just providing enough of a windbreak. It also has excellent brakes, fluent handling and an upright riding position.
Details like mirrors which show a clear rear view, fuel warning light, a digital clock, plus optional heated grips ABS braking, radio etc. all add up to make the F650CS a perfect all-round package for the first time biker, or someone coming back after a long lay-off.
But, at £5400 on the road, the BMW is more money than most first timers would probably want to invest in a hobby which may not prove totally addictive – newbies tend to set the budget in the 3-4K range. Adding options could boost the F650 CS cost to over £7000 quite easily too – way too much for most people just passing their CBT.
That means bikes like the revvy Kawasaki ER5, Suzuki´s funky SV650 twin, or Honda´s damn fine CB500, will steal sales from this frankly oddball looking, yet capable alternative.
The BMW brand name only goes so far ultimately, so as hi-tech and adroit as the Scarver is, I can´t see it setting as many biking souls on fire as something like the Suzy SV650, which is a 130mph pocket rocket, which also looks gorgeous, especially in that all blue paint scheme, and costs over a grand less.
All credit to BMW for trying to push the boundaries out a bit, but I liked the previous F650 GS better, in terms of styling, and the way it rode. It was just more fun somehow. Isn´t that what being on two wheels is all about?
Get BMW bike insurance for the bmw f650 scarver.
|Engine||652cc, four stroke, single cylinder|
|Peak power||50bhp @ 6800rpm|
|Carbs||None, digital fuel injection|
|Frame||Single cradle frame, also acts as oil reservoir|
|Rear shock||Monoshock, adjustable for pre-load|
|Brakes||300mm front disc, twin piston caliper|
|Rear||272mm single disc, twin piston caliper|
|Fuel capacity||15 litres/3.3gallons|
|Estimated top speed||110mph|
|Options||Radio/CD/cassette speaker system, hard or soft luggage, heated grips, ABS braking system. 2 year warranty.|